If you thought your smartphone had you tethered to your job, just wait until you’re wearing an Apple Watch.
Just like how the smartphone brought employees ever closer to their employer, the Apple Watch will continue to drive the trend of never disconnecting from work.
“There is this shift that instead of work being this place that you go from 8 to 5, it becomes part of a lifestyle. A lot of places are embracing that ‘never off’ lifestyle, and I think that is a great fit for the Apple Watch,” said Dan Ward, co-founder of the mobile app development firm Detroit Labs. “Now you are becoming more and more connected with your employee.”
But perhaps, that isn’t such a bad thing. After all, if the Apple Watch can make doing your job easier, then it’s a good deal, Ward said.
In fact, the majority of the most active mobile users who plan on buying a wearable device also want to use it for work, according to a recent survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the security firm MobileIron.
About 42 percent of the “mobile generation,” which is categorized as men between 18 to 34 and parents with children under 18, owns or plans to purchase a wearable device, and 95 percent of those people plan to use the device at least partially for work.
“There is a lot of interest in the Apple Watch, especially in this hyper connected employee base, but the interesting thing is they don’t know exactly how they will use it, because they haven’t seen it before,” said Ojas Rege, MobileIron’s vice president of strategy.
Employers are privy to this and are already experimenting with ways the Apple Watch and other wearables might be useful for workers.
While companies aren’t necessarily planning to buy the watch for their workers, they are beginning to build apps to take advantage of the new platform, said Lindsey Irvine, global director of strategic partnerships at Salesforce.
“What really makes these devices smart are the killer apps on them. That is what drives real value. So what we are hearing from businesses is they want to see more killer enterprise applications that they can use for these devices,” Irvine said.
Last June, Salesforce launched Salesforce Wear to help developers create more enterprise applications for wearable devices like Pebble and Google Glass. Beginning Friday, the company and its partners are also rolling out apps for the Apple Watch.
These apps provide employees access to real-time data, with the aim of helping them make better business decisions, Irvine said.
For example, one built for sales managers uses predictive analytics to forecast performance in real time based on data that is being entered by team members elsewhere, Irvine said.
The Apple Watch could also play a big role in security for companies, said Ward. Much like how companies now use smartphones to enable VPN connections, the smartwatch could be used in a similar manner, he said.
Salesforce is already working on this. The company updated its Authenticator app, which enables two-step verification, for the Apple Watch. So now, employees can view their verification code from their wrist instead of their smartphone.
As developers gain more access to functionalities in the Apple Watch, like heart rate and motion sensors, they could even begin to use the device for health as it relates to employees, Ward said.
For example, an employee could opt into a promotion that enables the device to measure their activity level and in return the employee could get a discount on their insurance premium.
A boost for business
While companies are still experimenting with how the Apple Watch and other wearables will be used for work, they are sure of one thing: Wearables will be good for business.
In fact, about 68 percent of executives call wearables a “priority” for their company, according to Forrester Research. And according to a recent survey by Salesforce, 79 percent of wearable adopters say that wearables are or will be strategic to their company’s success.
“Wearables are not a fad, it is here to stay and this enormous growth in the space is going to be in large part driven by the enterprise,” said Irvine.
Similarly to how mobile added new value to the desktop, wearables will create new ways of doing business, she said.
“Wearable applications, they aren’t going to be identical to what I can get on my phone, but suddenly I’m going to be able to do more cool things. As a result of that I believe it’s going to drive increasing value,” Irvine said. “Today it’s run your business from your phone, and I think in the next few years we are going to be running elements of our business from our watch.”
Image credit: CC by Shinya Suzuki